Renault to pay Nelson Piquet Jr., father
LONDON -- Renault agreed to pay what it calls "substantial" damages to former driver Nelson Piquet Jr. and his father over allegations they lied when they accused the Formula One team of orchestrating a crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
After it dropped Piquet last year, Renault claimed the pair made up the story of a deliberate crash to blackmail the British-based team into keeping the driver.
The allegations surrounding the crash that allowed Fernando Alonso to win the race turned out to be true, with Renault managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds banned from F1.
Piquet Jr. and his father, three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet, had to pursue a libel case through Britain's High Court to get an apology.
"These serious allegations contained in the press release were wholly untrue and unfounded, and we withdraw them unequivocally," Renault said in a statement. "We would like to apologize unreservedly to Mr. Piquet Jr. and his father for the distress and embarrassment caused as a result.
"As a mark of the sincerity of our apology and regret, we have agreed to pay them a substantial amount of damages for libel as well as their costs, and have undertaken not to repeat these allegations at any time in the future."
FIA banned Briatore from motor sports in September 2009 for allegedly ordering Piquet Jr. to crash his car to help his teammate.
In a deposition given to FIA investigators in exchange for his immunity, Piquet Jr. said Briatore and Symonds ordered him to crash where it would take the most time to clear the damaged car and result in the longest possible delay.
The deployment of the safety car caused the field to bunch, wiping out the leaders' advantage over Alonso, who went on to win.
Renault escaped severe punishment from FIA, receiving only a suspended ban from F1. The F1 governing body is appealing this year's ruling by a French court to overturn Briatore's lifetime suspension.
Unable to secure a F1 car after the controversy, Piquet Jr. switched to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He finished No. 46 on the money list this year with $62,600.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press